Padjalanta/Badjelánnda means the higher land in Lulesámi. It’s Sweden’s largest national park, right next to the Norwegian border. Göran took his friends there for a hike this summer – and brought us along.

The Padjelanta National Park is a part of the World Heritage Site Laponia, together with Sarek, Muddus/Muttos and Stora Sjöfallet/Stuor Muorkke National Parks, as well as Sjaunja Nature Reserve. Padjelantaleden (the Padjelanta Trail) is about 150 km long and goes through parts of the National Park. You can start your hike from Ritsem or Kvikkjokk. It’s a relatively easy hike, with most cabins situated about 13–15 km apart, but sometimes a bit further.

This summer, I, and some friends of mine hiked parts of Padjelantaleden.

Towards Kisuris with the Ahkka massif in the far distance.
A sea stack few kilometers from the cabins at Låddejåkka.
The cabins along Padjelantaleden are of good standard.

Fly and hike

There are daily helicopter flights to Stáloluokta from Ritsem and Kvikkjokk. For our hike, we chose to fly from Ritsem to Stáloluokta, hike to Änonjálmme and get back to Ritsem by boat. It’s a 5– 6-day pleasant hike with efficiently ‘hikeable’ paths, over footbridges, and not as rocky as one might expect for the mountain area.

The cabins are of a good standard, and you can buy provisions at most sites, sometimes even fish and fresh bread.

Most parts of the Padjelanta trail has foot bridges.
The water in the jokks, creeks and lakes is perfectly safe to drink.
The river Vuojatädno.

A rich flora awaits

Padjelanta is known for its rich flora, a multitude of plants grow along the trail – stretching out as far as the eye can see. Many botanists have studied and documented the splendour of flowers in Padjelanta. This is home to plants not found anywhere else in the Swedish Lapland mountains. Here, you can easily spot the Alpine Gentian, Strict Primrose, Moor-king, Blue Heath, Fragrant Orchid, Diapensia Lapponica and Cold Eyebright along the trail.

The bird-life is also fascinating to behold. We spotted Golden Eagle, European Golden Plover and Long-tailed Skua amongst other.

Sun setting over the lake Virihaure. Until mid-July, the Midnight sun shines over Padjelanta.
An European golden plover studying hikers from a safe distance.
All bigger jokks (rivers) have bridges, like Miellädno.

The trail begins or ends in Ritsem or Kvikkjokk. There are 13 cabins along Padjelantaleden, the seven cabins within the Laponia area are maintained by Badjelánnda Tourism as assigned by Laponiatjuottjudus. The other cabins are owned by STF, The Swedish Tourism Association. By the northern part of the trail, you’ll have to choose the path. You can begin, or end, your hike in Vájsáluokta or Änonjálme. The trails converge by Sállohávrre. There’s a daily boat tour between Ritsem, Änonjálmme and Vájsáluokta during high season, run by STF.

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Sweden’s most beautiful scenery

Some stretches of the trail climb high up beside the mountains sides, providing a striking view over the great lakes of Virihávrre, Vastenjávrre and Sáluhávrre. The stretch between Stáloluokta and Árasluokta is regarded as one the most beautiful hiking experiences in the Swedish mountain world, which I have to agree upon. In the east, the Sarek mountains are present during the entire hike, where we can see the steep and rugged mountain peaks.

The higher land. Padjelanta certainly has earned its name, as this landscape differs dramatically from other mountain areas.

The rich rivers of Miellädno and Låddejåkkå that flow out to the big lakes are also a powerful presence. From Vástenjávrre, the Vuojatädno river rushes past Guvtjávrre to Áhkkájávrre, a vast reservoir by the Lule River headwater. The flow of water under the bridge crossing Vuojatädno is very impressive, with a sound level that makes it impossible to have a normal conversation. Roughly translated, Vuojatädno means “The swim river” since the reindeer can’t wade over it, but have to swim across.

Hiking among the White Dryads.
You can tak a boat over Ahkkamagsinet, between Änonjalme, Vaisaluokta and Ritsem.
Some tips:

Bring mosquito repellent, a Flora of Swedish Lapland and binoculars so you can have a close look at both birds and the scenery. Don’t carry more than you need and plan on buying provisions along the trail. When spending time in the mountain areas – always be prepared for swift weather changes: be sure to bring waterproof outer layers, a warm sweater and a beanie.

Home to the Sámi – and mosquitos

The Laponia World Heritage Site and Padjelantaleden are old cultural landscapes for the Sámi people, with three Sámi communities in the area where reindeer husbandry and fishing are central livelihoods. Some of the cabin sites are close to their summer settlements.

At the beginning of summer the mosquitos can be bothersome, but by the end of July, they usually die off. We were lucky, and our hike took us up on the bare fjelds,: the weather was sunny and a bit windy, so the pesky little things stayed clear of us.

Padjelantaleden is a summer trail. If you are planning to visit in winter, hire a guide. You need adequate experience and knowledge about how to deal with the winter conditions in the Swedish Lapland mountains.

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